As the MLB season nears, I decided I would post an article every couple of days breaking down my top players at each position. My last article covered starting pitchers so this one will cover catchers. However, this article will only feature five cathcers simply because there are not many elite catchers in the game today. The catcher’s position is one where a superstar comes along once, maybe twice in a lifetime. Players such as Johnny Bench, Yogi Berra, or Carlton Fisk don’t come around everyday. Here we go.
- Yadier Molina- Molina has my vote for the best all-around catcher in Major League Baseball. He is a career .279 hitter, but he is most known for his defense. I tend to be very drawn to players like Molina, because there is literally nothing flashy about him. He is just fundamentally sound in all aspects of the game. He consistently calls a great game, he blocks pitches in the dirt better than anyone in the league, and can gun down virtually any would-be base stealer. He is a classy player on and off the field, gets along with his teammates, and is a very coachable star. Basically the only downsides to Molina are his very poor speed and occasional baserunning mistake, but his positives heavily outweigh his negatives.
- 2. Buster Posey- Posey is arguably the best young player in the game today. With less than three years of total big leagues experience, he has already won himself two World Series rings. His 2011 campaign was brutally cut short by a broken leg due to a collision with a runner at home plate. In his short career, Posey has a .316 batting average, and he doesn’t tend to strike out all that much. Similar to Molina, Posey is a very solid fielder. He calls a great game, takes care of the pitching staff, and has thrown out better than thirty percent of base stealers in each year of his career. He also compiles a very small amount of errors every year. Posey’s three-year career has already rewarded him with the 2010 Rookie of the Year Award, and the 2012 Most Valuable Player Award. This may be a bold statement early in his career, but I think Buster Posey will have no problem getting into Cooperstown when he retires, barring any major setbacks.
- 3. Joe Mauer- Over the past six or seven seasons, Mauer has been arguably the most consistent player in the Major Leagues. Having played his entire career with the Minnesota Twins, he has posted a career .323 average, with his lowest being .287 during the 2011 season. Mauer’s career year came in 2009, when he put up a .365 average with 28 bombs. The main reason Mauer dropped to third on my list is because in recent years, Mauer has been switching between catcher, first base, and designated hitter. Albeit small, I think taking days off from catching gives him just a slight advantage over everyone else, as he has a little bit more time to relax and give his body time to rest. He puts together a great balance of aggressiveness and patience at the plate, and is nothing short of a solid defender. Mauer, like Posey, should have a good shot at Cooperstown if he keeps up his game for the next few seasons.
- 4. Brian McCann- Although McCann has dropped off over the last season or two, I still believe he is one of the best in the game. He hit .270 or above every season except for 2012, in which he hit a career-low .230. Since his first full season in 2006, McCann has been a steady complement to Chipper Jones in the middle of the Braves lineup. With 2013 being his first season without Chipper, look for McCann to have a bounce-back year while producing a large portion of the Braves offense. I find McCann to be a mediocre fielder, letting a decent number of passed balls through, and only throwing out about 23% of potential base stealers. That being said, he has made six appearances in the all-star game, proving that he is nothing short of a solid player. Look for McCann to have a good year, assuming the role of the Braves top hitter.
- 5. Matt Wieters- Rounding out my top five is the young catcher for the Baltimore Orioles. Wieters is steadily developing into one of the most reliable catchers in the game today. While his offensive game is still developing, he has already proven himself as one of the best defensive catchers in the pros. He has only let up eleven passed balls in his four years in the majors, and has gunned out an impressive 32% of would be base stealers. Look for Wieters to steadily improve his game. I see him hitting around .300 this season.
In 2010 the Minnesota Twins won 94 games and captured their second-straight American League Central title. The Twins won just 63 games and finished dead last in the division in 2011. It was their worst season since 1999. The Twins were active in the off-season, but much of the action came from watching players who were leaving Minnesota rather than the players who were entering Minnesota. The Twins did not do much to significantly upgrade their team.
1. Carl Pavano (9-13, 4.30 ERA, 1.36 WHIP)
2. Francisco Liriano (9-10, 5.09, 1.49)
3. Scott Baker (8-6, 3.14, 1.17)
4. Nick Blackburn (7-10, 4.49, 1.60)
5. Jason Marquis (8-6, 4.43, 1.49)
Starting pitching was a huge area of concern for the Twins last season. Twins starters pitched just 961 innings, fourth fewest in the American League. They accounted for just 80 quality starts, also fourth fewest in the AL. They posted a collective ERA of 4.64, third-worst in the league. After reviewing the numbers, I would expect the innings pitched to stay around the same because Carlos Pavano who pitched the most innings is not going to do the same at age 36.
1. Denard Span, CF
2. Jamey Carroll, SS
3. Joe Mauer, C
4. Justin Morneau, 1B
5. Josh Willingham, RF
6. Ryan Doumit, DH
7. Danny Valencia, 3B
8. Alexi Casilla, 2B
9. Ben Revere, LF
The Twins offense managed to finish second-to-last in runs scored in 2011 with 619. Their on-base percentage of .306 was second worst in the league, and the slugging percentage stood at a whopping .360. They were in dead last in the home run category for the American League.
Keep in mind last years lineup had good power threats in Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel, both of whom are not on the 2012 roster.
With Joe Mauer making $23 million until 2018, he has a great deal of production to make up fro because of only playing in 82 games. In 2009 Mauer put up gaudy numbers for a catcher. He hit .365 and had 28 home runs to go along with 96 RBI’s. He managed to win the MVP for the Twins. With injury nagging, Mauer managed to hit .287 with 30 RBI’s.
Matt Capps (4-7, 15 SV, 7 HLD, 9 BLSV, 4.25 ERA, 1.20 WHIP)
I predict that Ron Gardenhire and the Minnesota Twins finish the 2012 year at 69-93. If healthy, Joe Mauer will put up numbers close to his 2009 season. Justin Morneau has been able to put up monster numbers since 2005. He did win the 2006 MVP and in 2008 he drove in 129 runs (not even his career high). Also, Francisco Liriano has the ability to pitch a no hitter just as he did last year. The rest of the players that Gardenhire has are below average.